June 24, 2010 - Australia is the first country to announce a plan to force tobacco into plain packaging with large pictorial health warnings - a move the industry says it will fight. From 2012, the only remnant of branding would be the name of the product, in uniform print. Gone would be the colours and attractive pictures. "I think it would be hugely powerful for young people," Auckland University researcher Judith McCool said last night. "The pack is the last bastion of tobacco industry promotion."
Dr McCool co-supervised master's degree research by Lisa Webb in which 80 students aged 14 or 15 from six Auckland schools were interviewed about their attitudes to smoking, smokers, tobacco packaging and plain packets. The Heart Foundation-funded study found the teenagers considered the plain packets they were shown to be dull, but said they enhanced the impact of the graphic health warnings. "These perceptions were transferred to the act of cigarette smoking as an unattractive or uncool behaviour," the researchers said. The teenagers thought plain packaging would remove the "purpose" of smoking. It then became simply a "bad habit" rather than a cool and rebellious behaviour".
Many submitters to the Maori affairs select committee's tobacco inquiry have urged the MPs [members of parliament] to recommend the New Zealand Government impose plain packaging on the industry among a range of new tobacco control policies.
Otago University marketing expert Professor Janet Hoek said plain packaging "would be a very powerful measure to decrease the attractiveness of smoking". "When you ask young smokers, a lot say they thought smoking was cool. A lot also regret it when they become addicted. Ninety per cent of adult smokers regret it."
The Auckland study found that although the present graphic warnings - some of which show body parts diseased from smoking - were designed to prompt adult smokers to quit, they also led teenagers to view smokers as undesirable, prompting descriptions like "addicted", "lacking in common sense" and "social outcasts".
But the teenagers were confused by the health messages appearing on brightly coloured packets alongside brand imagery, and the researchers said this blunted the effect of the warnings.
Reference: Plain packs for cigarettes turn off teens by Martin Johnston, nzhearld.co.nz, 6/24/2010.
New Zealand related news briefs:
New Zealand - Tobacco companies target women..;
New Zealand - lobby group of small retailers formed to protest tobacco price hike..;
New Zealand - more than half of the people want to end tobacco sales by 2020..;
New Zealand - revenue department has begun a review of BAT financial transactions..;
New Zealand - increase in tobacco excise forced through Parliament by the Government..;
New Zealand - Christchurch prepares for meeting with tobacco select committee..;
New Zealand - biggest drop in smoking rates seen in a decade..;
New Zealand - Maori affairs committee continues to gather information..;
New Zealand - study quit-smoking products that are acceptabe and effective..;
New Zealand - smoking ban results in decrease in heart attacks..;
New Zealand - BAT attends Maori Affairs select committee meeting on tobacco..;
New Zealanders want cigarettes banned by 2020..;
New Zealand - Maori women - almost 50% smoke..;
New Zealand - more and more teenagers turned off by smoking..;
New Zealand - loophole in the law banning tobacco sponsorship..;
New Zealand - University of Auckland to go smokefree - 1st university in country..;
New Zealand - smoking ban in bars results in less smoking at home..;
New Zealand - study, tobacco displays leads to increase in youth smoking..;
New Zealand - graphic warnings cigarette maker selects less offensive images..;
New Zealand - Maori committee to investigate smoking..;
New Zealand - Tairawhiti Board wants tobacco sold only on prescription..;
New Zealand - health researchers calling on government to ban importation of tobacco..;
New Zealand - 1st trial ever of e-cigarettes..;
New Zealand - BAT reducing prices discouraging people from quitting..;
New Zealand - stop smoking campaigns NOT working..;
BAT awarded worst corporation in New Zealand..;
New Zealand - government may NOT support tobacco display bans..;
New Zealand More Evidence Needed to Ban Tobacco and Cigarette Displays..;
More evidence - tobacco displays increase the risk of teens smoking..;
Horror photos go on New Zealand cigarette packs..;
Country to Eliminate Smoking - The South Pacific nation of Niue;
Ireland to ban tobacco displays..;
Smokefree NZ within 10 years..;
By law, oral snuff cannot (but nasal snuff is allowed) be sold in New Zealand and can be imported only for personal use..